News & Analysis

Women Employees Continue to Battle Workplace Gender Bias

Discrimination against women at the workplace is no secret. But just as the International Women’s Day approaches, an eye-opening report by LinkedIn brings to light that the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the working women in India the most as compared to working women in other countries, who are severely battling gender bias in their job.

According to the LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2021 report, because of their gender most working women in India have missed out on a raise or promotion. While the Asia Pacific average stands at 60%, with 85% Indian women face the strongest gender biases across the Asia Pacific countries. Also the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women and so has the pressure of juggling home and work. 89% of women stated believe to be negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Director, Talent and Learning Solutions, India at LinkedIn, Ruchee Anand said that it is need of the hour for organisations to reimagine their diversity practices and offer greater flexibility to caregivers as gender inequality as well as  added domestic responsibilities have made women’s job vulnerable.

She added that opportunities to upskill and learn are critical offerings, reduced and flexible schedules, more sabbaticals can help organizations attract, hire, and retain more female talent.

As per the report; about one in five women, which accounts for 22% of the working women in India, is unhappy with the opportunities to advance in their career. These women said that, their companies are favorably biased towards men. Further, 85% of working women claim that they have missed out on raise, promotion, or work offer in India. While in Asia-Pacific region this figure stands at 60%.

The report also highlights that, 37% of working women in India get fewer opportunities than men. Further, 37% of the women are paid less than men.

LinkedIn’s findings further states that, women now seek the employers who treat them as equal. On the other hand, 56% of the women look for recognition at work for their work. Other women wants that they get work as per their skills.

In India, lack of required professional skills and lack of guidance through networks and connections are the barriers that hinders the career development for working women. Because of these barriers, the women are of the view that organisations should step up in order to provide maternity policies and other flexibility and developmental programs. The women are also appreciating the telecommuting and work-from-home.

There are a number of other reports too that echoes similar views. According to Kaspersky researchers, in their recent survey, 46% of women say they’ve been held back from pursuing career changes since March 2020 because of home pressures.

Noushin Shabab, Senior Security Researcher, Global Research & Analysis Team at Kaspersky emphasized that organizations should support women’s career in tech, including the provision of mentoring and internship programs to provide access to opportunities and experience. But in order to instill a belief that the tech industry is a place for women to work and succeed, Shabab believes that the journey needs to start much earlier.

However, a report by global accounting firm Grant Thornton shows contrasting views of India ranking third in the world for women working in senior management positions. The percentage of women in senior management for India stood at 39%, as against the global average of 31%, which signals the changing outlook of Indian businesses towards working women.

The percentage of women leaders across key positions in C-Suite in the country also emerged higher than the global average in the report. While globally, businesses with at least one woman in the senior management role increased to 90%, the same stands at 98% in India. In fact, 47% of mid-market businesses in India now have women CEOs compared with 26% globally. As Pallavi Bakhru, Partner, Grant Thornton Bharat, said, “Under the challenging circumstances of 2020, the boundaries between work and home have blurred. In this scenario, it is good to see action being taken by businesses to ensure employee engagement and inclusion.”

While these reports may show similar or even contradictory numbers, there is no doubt that some companies are also beginning to introduce quotas that guarantee more equal representation across workforces. Some have even introduced mentorship programs and the creation of more role models who can share positive career experiences to young women who are considering entering the tech space. However, the numbers are few and far between. We have a lot more work to do not only to attract but keep talented female professionals. And we have much more to do if we are to go beyond the gender gap and make the industry more diverse across the board.

 

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